COUNCILLORS look set to allow Basingstoke taxi drivers to bring forward their 50 per cent surcharge from midnight to 11pm.

The council's licensing committee is set to agree to the move at its meeting on Tuesday as part of the latest round of price increases to come in the following Monday.

However, the new surcharge hour is being opposed by South Ham councillor Colin Regan, a former Cabinet member, who will speak against the move at the meeting.

Cllr Regan told The Gazette: "This is an unnecessary increase. Moving it from midnight to 11pm will be a major increase in fares for a lot of people. It gets people leaving the pubs and also people getting off late trains from London or Southampton.

"People accept paying extra after midnight. But this is totally unjustified and unwarranted."

There have been no objections from the public to the proposed fare increases, which were advertised earlier this month.

Chairman of Basingstoke Hackney Carriage Federation, Terry Cooper, said: "We can either whack up the increased fares right across the board or be selective about where the bulk of the increase is.

"The fare table increases are not very large. Ten out of the 13 local authorities in surrounding areas already operate a surcharge before midnight. Bringing forward the surcharge to 11 o'clock will not affect a large proportion of taxi customers in Basingstoke. The fare system in Basingstoke still represents value for money."

Under the new fares system, the £2.40 minimum charge will cover 450 yards rather than 500 yards as at present. It currently goes up 20p for each addition 400 yards, up to £7.20, and the new tariff would be 20p for each additional 350 yards. Over £7.20 at present it is 20p for each additional 230 yards, and this will be reduced to 215 yards.

There is a 100 per cent surcharge between 8pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on the morning after Boxing Day and from 8pm on New Year's Eve to 6am on the morning after New Year's Day. These remain unchanged as does the 50 per cent surcharge on all other Bank and Public Holidays.